How One Person Can Make An Impact

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For 10 years, Dan Mitchell has been making an impact on people with an intellectual or developmental disability, supported by KenCrest.

By Sydney Kerelo

Dan Mitchell had a different insight into people with disabilities from a young age. He spent a lot of time with his aunt, who had Down Syndrome. He remembers his family, including his aunt, visiting the local movie theater or playing outside, and he would witness the cruel words others would say about his aunt. Nasty remarks from others who didn’t comprehend what it was like for someone with a disability. They didn’t know her personally, they didn’t understand. But she never let it get to her. She would say, “They’re only being mean because they don’t know me. If they knew me, they would love me.” That stuck with Mitchell, and he carried that thought throughout his life.

Growing up with his aunt, Dan has always loved and appreciated people with an intellectual or developmental disability. But he didn’t realize how much until one day when his sister, who was working for KenCrest, came home with one of the children she supported at the Early Learning Centers. Dan quickly got to know her and fell in love with her sparkling personality and view of the world. He was inspired by the organizations that were dedicated to supporting those with a disability.

“A lot of people start this job because they need a paycheck. But they stay for the people we support. It becomes imperative that you work here; they capture your heart, and the work feeds your soul.”

Dan Mitchell

When he became a carpenter, Mitchell started working as the superintendent on the HUD house additions for KenCrest. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development acquired these 1-to-4-unit residential properties as a result of foreclosure, and some became community homes under KenCrest’s care. After his contract was over, Mitchell went on to different projects but was later offered a permanent position as KenCrest’s Project Manager.

Ten years later, now serving as the Senior Project Manager, Dan Mitchell oversees all of KenCrest’s 140 homes in Pennsylvania. He still loves KenCrest’s mission and uses his talents in construction to help others. Dan oversees KenCrest’s houses, like the Adult Community Living homes and Supported Independent Living apartments, ensuring they are safe, comfortable, and conducive to each resident's unique needs. His dedication to this role is a testament to his love and appreciation for individuals with disabilities.

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An individual we support in one of our Community Medical Homes // Photo by Aubrey Hoffert

Mitchell has recently been instrumental in significantly improving the KenCrest homes. His work goes beyond mere renovations; it's about creating a space that truly caters to the individual needs of each resident. He has ensured that all homes are ADA-compliant, making life easier and more accessible for those living there. His projects have included installing barrier-free tracks in the ceiling, constructing new decks, and adding a roll-in shower for those who use a wheelchair. He has also widened doorways, installed ramps, promptly addressed any issues that may arise, and assisted the Enabling Technology department in increasing the implementation for assistive technology in the homes, all with the aim of improving the quality of life for the residents.

Mitchell's dedication to ensuring each person supported by KenCrest receives the proper care within their homes is commendable and inspiring. Despite the challenge of limited resources, his unwavering determination to advocate for these individuals is a testament to his character. “It makes me all the prouder because they capture your heart. You want to ensure they have the best life possible, so you must advocate for them. We don’t have money to do everything we want, so I find myself from time to time pushing projects to ensure that person has the best possible quality of life,” says Mitchell.

“A lot of people start this job because they need a paycheck,” he continues. “But they stay for the people we support. It becomes imperative that you work here; they capture your heart, and the work feeds your soul.”